Ball State’s Hunter Jumper Equestrian Club: Where Passion and Camaraderie Thrive

A look into the competitive world of college equestrian teams and the unique experiences of Ball State University’s Hunter Jumper Equestrian Club

In the world of college equestrian teams, competition days are filled with excitement and anticipation. Riders from various universities gather, hoping to draw a horse that will give them an edge in their respective classes. For Ball State University’s Hunter Jumper Equestrian Club (HJEC), the fall semester is their busiest time, with back-to-back show weekends and a range of skill levels among its members. This article will delve into the intricacies of the club, the challenges they face, and the camaraderie that binds them together.

Leveling the Playing Field

At competitions, riders draw horses from a pool of available options, aiming for a horse they are familiar with. This process ensures fairness, as the horses vary in training and experience. The team competes against colleges such as Indiana University, Purdue, IUPUI, and occasionally practices with Butler. The recent competition hosted by IUPUI in Atlanta, Indiana, showcased the team’s dedication and talent.

A Spectrum of Riders

HJEC comprises riders of various skill levels, including introductory, pre-novice, novice, limit, intermediate, and open. The team’s trainer, Hannah Hartman, who has 12 years of riding experience and is an alumna of Ball State, emphasizes the inclusivity of the Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA). The IHSA welcomes both beginner and advanced riders, with points from all divisions counting equally. This camaraderie and teamwork are rewarding aspects of the sport.

A Passion for Riding

For fourth-year general studies major Melissa Coons, riding has been a lifelong passion. Inspired by her father’s involvement in an equestrian club, Coons joined HJEC to be surrounded by like-minded individuals. Riding provides her with a sense of escape and a chance to constantly improve. The English discipline, which the team practices, involves close contact with the horse and requires effective communication through cues and commands.

The Power of Team Support

Being part of a team allows riders like Coons to manage their riding development more effectively. Overcoming challenges and witnessing visible improvements bring her joy. The mutual support within HJEC is a crucial aspect of their dynamic. Regardless of their level of experience, riders on the team uplift and encourage each other. From beginners to lifelong equestrians, everyone finds a place within the team.

The Impact of Equestrianism

Hartman, as the team’s trainer, recognizes the transformative power of horses and riding. She believes that the sport fosters hardworking, kind, and empathetic individuals. Being able to facilitate opportunities for riders from all walks of life is a privilege for her. Alyssa Ford, the president of HJEC, echoes this sentiment, emphasizing that passion for horses is the only requirement for joining the team.

Student-Run Responsibility

HJEC is entirely student-run, which means that riders have additional responsibilities compared to some of their competitors. In addition to practice and competitions, board members must handle bookings and paperwork. Alyssa Ford, the team’s president, has done a phenomenal job organizing the riders and fostering enthusiasm within the team. Her leadership is shaping the team’s future and leaving a lasting legacy.


Ball State University’s Hunter Jumper Equestrian Club exemplifies the passion, camaraderie, and dedication found within college equestrian teams. With riders of varying skill levels, the team supports and uplifts each other, creating a welcoming environment for all. The transformative power of horses and riding is evident in the personal growth experienced by the riders. As the team continues to thrive, they hope to inspire more individuals to join their ranks and experience the joy of equestrianism.

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